Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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BAEM Advising Guide

Finding a Job

Finding a job may be one of the hardest and most stressful things you will have to do. Unlike applying to schools, finding a job requires much more initiative on your part, if only because of the large number of opportunities and choices involved. But the process is the same for everyone and it's mainly a matter of perseverance. If you plan ahead and take advantage of internship, research, and other opportunities, you will be in a better position to convince employers you have what they need. The fact that everyone needs to do this, usually several times, means there is an enormous range of help available, from job search web sites to career counselors.

The College of Science and Engineering provides Career Center for Science and Engineering, which has information on the job search process and arranges interviews with employers that visit campus. Make sure you don't forget about the larger picture of how your career relates to your life, see for example Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity (pdf).

GoldPass is the U of M's online database to help connect students and alumni with employers, volunteer organizations, and internships across the country.

There is additional information including search site links and job listings on our career information page (current students only).

Careers

Job Search Tips

  • Know what the company does and how you would fit in.
  • Be prepared to explain why you are interested in the position.
  • Dress as the employer expects, save showing your individuality for outside of work.
  • Don't post things on web sites about yourself you don't want employers to read, because they know how to use Google too.
  • Make sure your resume (see outline below) is completely accurate.
  • Ask before you give out anyone's name as a reference.
  • Don't expect your first job to be your dream job, first jobs last an average of 3 years.
  • Plan on continually searching for a new job. The worst that can happen is that you get a better job.
  • Register with job search sites (Monster.com etc.).
  • Check potential employer web pages frequently as job postings appear and disappear quickly.
  • Start with the companies you really want to work for (prime contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, government agencies NASA, JPL). Then look up the major suppliers/subcontractors to those companies (Honeywell avionics, GE propulsion, United Technologies--Pratt and Whitney, etc., and work your way down to landing gear, hydraulic actuator companies). If you can't get a job at the top, start lower down the supply chain and work your way up.

Resume Outline

A resume is one page and includes the following:

  1. Name and contact info at top; include US citizen, willing to relocate if that's true. Include desired start date.
  2. Objective is second item on resume, most important, should be a sales pitch, use big adjectives - e.g. "Seeking position on a state of the art aerospace system design team where I can gain experience and grow as a professional while contributing to on time, technical excellence of the finished product."
  3. Work Experience is third item (if you have engineering related work experience). Education should the third item if you have no engineering work experience. Be specific "Summer student for Dr. Longmire" is very weak, "Paid position on $1.3 million NSF grant studying ..." is much stronger. Include military service, it's valuable.
  4. List software you know how to use as fifth item (ProE and Matlab/Simulink very valuable, Excel and Word are not).
  5. List honors last.

Get friends and professional job search experts to review your resume.

Write a custom cover letter for each job you apply for.

Job interviews

  • Bring resume copies.
  • Main purpose of interview is for them to learn about your personality. Be outgoing, friendly, shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, show interest in everything (ask about anything you see while being escorted in the building like labs, or large pieces of equipment). Speak up, talk slow, pause before answering questions.
  • Wear business casual clothes, upscale but not formal.
  • Bring senior design or work experience presentation (Power Point, photos, etc.).
  • Offer to give a "Noon brown bag seminar" on your project or work experience.
  • If interviewer is doing all the talking, interrupt and make them listen to you talk about your experience and goals.
  • Be on time! Drive the route to the interview location the night before.
  • Relax, be yourself, have fun, smile, do not forget to breath.
  • Thank everyone, saying their name, ex. "Thank you Mr. Jones."
  • Stand up and shake hands when someone enters the room.
  • Send thank you notes after your interview.
  • Ask for contact information from everyone you meet.
  • Ask if it's OK to call back later to see how your application is going.
  • If you don't get the job, call all contacts back every month or so to see if they have work for you. Ask if they know if anyone else is hiring. Keep doing this till you get a job or they ask you to stop calling.

Questions you can ask them

  • Who will I be working for? Have I met them? Will I meet them?
  • Where will I be working? Can I see the workspace?
  • Do you encourage and support employees getting graduate education?
  • Is my job contingent on winning a contract, or is the funding source for my job already secured? For how long?
  • Do you encourage workers to move around within the company for learning experience and advancement?
  • How do you see my role on your team? Will I be doing analysis, testing, transition to production, manufacturing support, customer support, simulation, planning, design, or research?
  • Are there opportunities to take training in new software tools, new technologies?
  • Does this job require a lot of travel? How much?

Last Modified: 2016-03-10 at 14:02:58 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation